Community mentor Anna Bartlett is well respected by the members of her dojo, Bushino Ki karate club.

This July 1, Communauté francophone accueillante de Clare is highlighting the poignant words of community mentor Anna Bartlett.

Click here to read Anna's poem "Hey God."

Anna Bartlett wears many hats: some know her as an empathetic nurse at the Villa Acadienne home for special care; others know her as the revered dojo sensei at the Bushino Ki karate club. Recently, Anna generously shared her talent for poetry to put her emotions to paper following the discoveries of unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools in Canada.

As a young Mi’kmaq girl growing up in Clare, Anna recalls the stories her mother told her about her days at the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School.

“I remember Mom telling me how they prayed to God every night to help get them out of that school. I didn’t listen to her much growing up because I didn’t think such a thing was ever possible. But then as I got older, I listened more and watched the tears she shed. A lot of stuff that happened there my mom talked about. I was lucky, it’s because of her I got to be born because she was a Survivor.

“This poem is what I think these children would have said, would have asked for. It’s words that needed to be said.”

After much contemplation, the Municipality of the District of Clare has opted not to host any Canada Day events this year. This decision was made out of respect for the Indigenous people in light of the of the tragic discoveries at former residential schools. While residents are welcome to observe July 1 as they wish, we ask the community for empathy and to consider using the holiday for thoughtful reflection.

Hey God
Anna Bartlett

My parents believed in you
I was told God will watch over us
Didn’t you hear us cry?
Didn’t you hear us scream?
We were raped and beaten
Things we didn’t understand happened
Where were you God?
When they threw us in the furnace
Or when they whipped us
We were so little and scared
Why didn’t you hear us
Why didn’t you help us
Where were you God?
When we were so hungry
When we needed love and care
When we cried for momma and papa
Just one more time
We wanted their loving arms around us
Where were you God?
When we became pregnant
When they came for us to be raped
We were babies ourselves
Our little voices saying
“Please God help us”
Now our souls and spirits are free
We can finally whisper “They found us”
We aren’t afraid anymore
We were freed from Hell
And Heaven opened its arms
To let us all in
“Where were you God?”